UPDATE: Wood County regional jail bills declining

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PARKERSBURG, W.Va.-(WTAP) Update: 2/21/2019 5:40 P.M.

Changes at the Wood County Holding Center have helped stabilize what the county pays to house prisoners at the regional jail.

Late last summer, operation of the county holding center was transferred from Wood County to the state of West Virginia.

The Wood County Commission was told Thursday the recent monthly regional jail bill was $160,000.

In recent years, it's been as high as $250,000.

While the annual bill is still expected to be $2 million, Sheriff Steve Stephens says there have been some noticeable differences for his office.

"We're not paying to transport these people to the North Central Regional Jail now," the sheriff said. "I'm tickled to death we have a transport van out there that we seldom ever have to use now."

And the commission Thursday approved bids for demolition of a vacant home on Hill Street, that had been destroyed in a fire several months ago.

It also approved a bid for new equipment for the sheriff's office, that is expected to expand county-wide radio coverage.

That comes as construction of a new 911 tower in southern Wood County is planned for later this year.


Update: 8/30/2018 5:25 P.M.

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice took part Thursday in the official re-dedication of the Wood County Holding Center.

The change means correctional employees at the holding center will now be state, rather than county workers.

It's part of a reorganization of the Division of Corrections authorized by the governor and his secretary of public safety, Jeff Sandy.

"The whole concept of the consolidation bill will make expediting of handling all the prisoners and doing all things we have to do," the governor said at Thursday's ceremony. "It will save us all money at the end of the day."

Those changes also mean prisoners can be kept at the holding center, instead of being transported by county deputies to the regional jail.

There's also been a 90-mile round trip for Wood County, but it can be even longer for sheriff's offices in neighboring counties.


Update: 8/16/2018 4:50 P.M.

Wood County is now in agreement on a new lease for the tower used by the 911 Center.

But, for the time being, the county commission won't act on extending that lease.

Prosecutor Pat Lefebure told the commission Thursday the tower's owners have met the county's requirements for extending the lease for ten years.

The tower is located near the 911 Center on Core Road, and the current lease runs until 2028.

Partly because of that, the commission decided not to take immediate action on the new agreement, opting to continue with the present lease.

Lefebure has been discussing a lease extension with the current owners for several months.

Earlier this month, the commission approved a grant agreement for construction of a new 911 tower, on land owned by Chemours.

The latter issue is to be discussed at the commission's August 20 meeting.


Update: 4/12/2018 3:30 P.M.

Wood County remains in discussions with the owners of the tower art the 911 Center about an extension of the county's lease for that facility.

It plans to ask for help with negotiations from a company specializing in tower leases.

The tower's owner offered the county an extension of the lease with renewal options, and the county has made a counter offer.

Prosecutor Pat Lefebure told the commission Thursday American Tower has withdrawn its offer, and believes it has extended the lease another ten years.

"The original lease was in September of (19)'98, then was extended to 2008, and then was extended to 2018," Lefebure said. "He believes they have already extended it. I haven't seen any confirmation of that, but that's their belief."

The commission, meanwhile, plans to contact property owners who have not paid their county fire fees.

It has reached out to a collection agency, and Thursday discussed other ways of notifying owners.

The fee, enacted nearly two years ago, is collected by Wood County and distributed to volunteer fire departments.


4/9/2018

The Wood County Commission discusses its lease with a private company for the use of a cell phone tower located near the 911 Center on Core Road.

The current 20-year lease with American Tower allows the county to place equipment for the 911 Center on that structure.

American Tower has proposed a 30-year lease, but with a series of options lasting six years during that span.

"American Tower has the tower, but we have a lease through TeleSpectrum, that ends in 2028, that allows us to put our equipment up there," County Prosecutor Pat Lefebure explained to the commission Monday. "So what we would need to figure out is the length we would want, and the term we would be happy with."

The commissioners told Lefebure the county would like a 20-year lease, for $1,000 a month for the first ten years.